About Operation Pollinator

Operation Pollinator aims to support golf clubs and sports facilities to establish and manage areas of pollen and nectar rich wildflower habitat, that will provide essential food resources and nesting habitat for pollinators, including native bees, butterflies and other insects.

The environmental diversity supported by selected native wildflowers will also provide new visual features and give added interest for players and public - demonstrating the huge potential ecological value of managed amenity turf areas.

There is no cost and no prescriptive commitment to being involved - just the desire to enhance the ecological value of the managed turf areas for the benefit of biodiversity, the people and the players who use it. 

Operation Pollinator brings together a community of turf managers to help each other and share their successes and experience.

Why get involved?

  • Pollinating insects are an essential part of the natural ecosystem, for pollination of food crops and to maintain ecological biodiversity. Populations of some pollinating insects have declined over recent years, but providing appropriately managed habitats has shown it can reverse the trend and enhance numbers.
  • Golf courses and turf facilities provide outstanding potential to create essential habitat and food sources for a range of native bees and pollinating insects.
  • Involvement with Operation Pollinator generates new opportunities for clubs and immense pride for players. 
  • Nationally, Operation Pollinator is seeking to establish 250 hectare of specific new habitat on up to 500 golf courses and sports facilities across the UK – creating a significant ecological resource and proving that golf and the environment can be effectively managed in the same area.
  • Independent research trials have shown creation of even small areas of dedicated habitat can significantly increase the numbers of pollinating insects. With your support we can make that difference count.

What is involved, and what will you see?

  • Identify areas suitable for Operation Pollinator habitat creation.
  • The aim is to target new habitat creation to bring to life areas of low ecological value. Monitor what existing environmental features you have, so as not to disturb already valuable areas. 
  • Assess what techniques will be most appropriate for wildflower establishment, or other habitat creation aimed to encourage pollinating insects and biodiversity. 
  • Typically designated Operation Pollinator areas should be intensively scarified to expose bare earth, to sow the selected wildflower seed, ideally in autumn when soils are sufficiently warm and moist for seedling establishment. 
  • The grasses will grow back, although you may choose to use a growth regulator on the grasses to hold back competition and allow the wildflower seedlings to establish strongly before the winter.
  • Future management should involve an annual cut of the wildflower area in early autumn, after the bird nesting period and once seed has set and been released, with the possible need for further scarification to encourage more wildflowers. 
  • Operation Pollinator habitat creation also extends to insect nesting areas, such as sand or earth banks or specific plants for target species; heathers or gorse natural for heathland and links courses best support the native pollinators. Creating areas aimed for pollinating insects also benefits far wider biodiversity. 

STRI trials suggest that some wildflowers should be seen in the first spring and summer after sowing. However, as most native plant species sown are perennial or biennial, it will only be in the second and subsequent years that the wildflowers areas come into their own, and will go on getting better every year thereafter.

Scientific research into pollinating insect populations on Operation Pollinator habitats indicate that significant numbers of bumblebees and butterflies should start to be seen increasing over the coming years.

Future actions

Operation Pollinator is a very worthwhile project to develop as part of the industry's commitment to environmental and ecological management. 

The aim is that it will also add an extra level of interest and pride for the turf management team and players.